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Celebrities and Professional Athletes Support the Cause
Retinitis Pigmentosa International (RPI)—a non-profit organization serving the visually impaired for 40 years—presents the TheatreVision Premiere of DreamWorks’ Oscar-nominated feature film “How To Train Your Dragon” for 200 young blind Olympians. TheatreVision’s audio description technique was first conceived in 1990 by RPI founder Helen Harris, a blind woman who was inspired to change the face of motion pictures so that visually impaired viewers could hear the on-screen action described by top talent and directors. William Atherton (“Die Hard,” “Ghostbusters”) lends his voice for the TheatreVision version of this film. The children will be treated to a Subway sponsored meal upon arriving at the Agrama Harmony Gold Preview House Theater, the venue which makes this event possible each year due to a gracious donation by Frank Agrama. The TheatreVision presentation is the crowning event for the Blind Olympics, the premier sporting event for athletes from across the Western United States who are blind and visually impaired.
Celebrities and VIPs slated for attendance include legendary LA Dodgers first baseman Wes Parker (A six-time Gold Glove winner 1964-1972, Parker may go down in Dodger history as one of the best fielding first basemen ever. During his tenure with the team, he helped lead the Dodgers to both the 1965 and 1966 World Series.); ’98 Gold Medal Olympic skater Tara Lipinski (the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games); actor William Atherton (A veteran of stage, film and TV, Atherton began as a leading man in Steven Spielberg's “Sugarland Express,” John Schlesinger's “Day of the Locust,” and Richard Brooks's “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” He is most known for his iconic characters in “Ghostbusters,” “Die Hard” I and II, “Real Genius,” “Bio-Dome” and “The Last Samurai.”); 15-year old actor Garrett Backstrom (“The Motel Life,” starring with Dakota Fanning, Stephen Dorff and Emile Hirsch, to which, Garrett plays Stephen Dorff at sixteen; also featured in “How To Train Your Dragon” commercial for DVD release); actor Gabriel Jarret (“Apollo 13,” “Frost,” “Nixon”); actress Vanessa Evigan (“Zombie Hamlet”); actress Lindsey Gareth (Columbia’s “Born To Be a Star”); (producer/director Alonso Alvarez (“Historia de un Letrero”), and more to be announced.
When: Saturday, April 9, 2011
4:00 p.m.: Children arrive for Subway sponsored meal
5:00 pm: Screening Starts with Opening Remarks by Wes Parker
Where: Harmony Gold Preview House Theater (7655 Sunset Blvd., LA 90046) at the Northwest corner of Sunset and Stanley, near the border of West Hollywood and Hollywood. (Stanley is West of La Brea and East of Fairfax.)
Media Contact: Heather Burgett,
Currently marking its 20th anniversary year, TheatreVision is a program that makes feature film presentations accessible to the visually challenged. The concept of narration and description in motion pictures was created by Mrs. Helen Harris in 1990. TheatreVision incorporates a special soundtrack for feature films that runs concurrently with the dialogue of the motion picture. This second soundtrack provides a descriptive narration of what is being shown on the screen, so that audience members who are blind—or those with limited sight—can still experience the medium of motion pictures. With the help and cooperation of the Hollywood community, the prototype for TheatreVision was developed by Mrs. Harris, who then worked in conjunction with many of the entertainment industry’s leading filmmakers—several of whom have created TheatreVision versions of their own films. These specially formatted films have been made available, through RPI, to libraries, charitable organizations, special screenings, and schools for the blind. To date, over 150 Hollywood feature films have been produced in TheatreVision, with many having been narrated by noted celebrities. These have included “Forrest Gump,” “Titanic” (described by James Cameron), “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menance” (described by Samuel L. Jackson), “Mission Impossible,” "Gangs of New York" (described by Martin Scorcese). “Apollo 13” (described by William Shatner), and “It’s A Wonderful Life” (described by President George H. W. Bush). Recent entries include “Twilight,” “Valkkyrie,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Seven Pounds” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
About RP International (RPI)
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a degenerative, hereditary eye disease that afflicts nearly 3.5 million people worldwide. When diagnosed with the condition 40 years ago, Helen Harris was a homemaker in Pennsylvania. Once she found out that she had passed on RP to two out of her three sons, she started a mission to save vision by founding RP International (RPI). Since then, Harris’ non-profit organization has led the fight against disabling eye diseases that afflict over 31 million people in America and worldwide. RPI has raised over $5 million to date during the past 40 years of telethons and special events, including its annual Vision Awards fundraiser for medical research for restoring vision. RPI is also behind the first successful retinal transplant that has fully restored vision in blind patients. RPI has also enlisted other donors into contributing more than $300 million directly to medical research for eye health. Whether Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration, Usher's Syndrome, Batten's Disease, or other visual impairments, RPI has helped pierce the darkness through the following initiatives: sponsoring medical research and communication amongst leading researchers; providing human services for blind and sight-impaired children, young adults, and seniors; educating the public, the medical profession, and those suffering from disabling eye diseases; pioneering TheatreVision™, an innovative technical development invented at RPI that permits the blind and sight-impaired to watch movies and television with their sighted family and friends; the annual “Eyes of Christmas” special broadcast, raising awareness and bringing holiday cheer to the blind; as well as the annually televised Vision Awards (www.visionawards.org), which honors major luminaries across the fields of entertainment, science, sports and the arts. Harris has partnered with many of the biggest stars and movie studios to produce TheatreVision™ versions of major feature films, including James Cameron, who lent his voice for the audio description of his blockbuster hit, "Titanic."
Contributions to support RPI’s initiatives to save vision can be made via mail to: RP International, PO BOX 900, Woodland Hills, CA 91367, or online at www.rpinternational.org. For information please contact Helen Harris at 818-992-0631, or email
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